So Stacie gave me a summary of how TPR works where she is. I'm going to assume that it is pretty much similar here, since I don't have any idea. If that is the case, then that means....
TPR in our state is much more complicated than that. Typically, it requires abandonment of the child by the parents (no monetary support or physical contact for 6 months) and then the parents are sent a notification of intent to pursue TPR.
Presumably that is the letter the social worker is writing is that notification. Will has given monetary support in the form of having his tax refund held. I don't know if the court counts that. They have not been in the same room since June of 2008. Gary did not hear from his father at all from September 2008 to August 2009. And that August phone call was the one in which Will told him that he wanted to relinquish...so he wouldn't have to pay support.
They then have the opportunity to respond. If they respond and say no, that's all they have to say.
In this case, anything is possible. People who have interacted with his parents (and that interaction has been minimal) predict either an agreement to voluntarily relinquish or non-response. His father did, of course, tell him he wanted to relinquish his parental rights. Though he can't take back the damage he did to his relationship with Gary when he said that, having said it doesn't mean he will do it. I think there is a big difference between announcing you want to do something and the state telling you have to do that same thing. No one wants to be pushed around, and relinquishing your kid is a big deal, even if it seemed like the right thing to do one August evening.
He hasn't had any contact with his mom for a decade. She certainly would be in her rights to say "no" but the abandonment case against her is pretty air tight.
It immediately forces DSS to start working toward reunification again, and to either restart or rework a family plan.
Only wrinkle here is that there never was a reunification or family plan of any kind. The plan has always been "we need to find Gary a place to live until he can take care of himself." Even if his dad says he won't relinquish he will also almost certainly say that he can't give Gary a home either.
If the parents agree to sign the plan, it negates pursuing TPR for the lenght of that plan (typically 6-12 months).
If the parents refuse to sign the plan or don't acknowledge the original notice of intent to pursue TPR, then the state can go ahead and serve the parents with the date/time of the court date where the TPR proposal will be heard.If they show up, they'll be given attorneys and the fight begins.
In the scenarios we have been playing around with, not showing up seems to be one of the significant possibility.
If DSS has grounds, then a trial will happen. If DSS does not have grounds or the parents argue that they were denied reasonable assistance to work their plan, then the request to pursue TPR is denied.
If that passes, then there is normally a TPR trial, and the judge looks at whether or not TPR is appropriate. For most teens, TPR is not granted in our area unless there is a) a suitable adoptive family waiting (preferably one that has had placement of the child) b) relative or close family friend willing to assume care of the child and who needs TPR in order to add the child to medical benefits, etc c) the child is nearing 18 and wants to be free of parental ties so that he/she will qualify for the scholarships and grants of higher education that are avialable to high school graduates who were legal orphans at the time of graduation.
Well, we're the potential adoptive family. The social worker also said that TPR with teenagers was pretty rare, mostly because there isn't normally an adoptive family around.
Or so we understand....LOL nothng is ever quite certain inthe system, is it?
TPR around here is hard to get- the parents have a lot of rights, if they choose to use them, which most do.
That is as it should be. I'm a strong supporter of parental rights. The state's power to decide who should and shouldn't be a parent needs to be very limited.
Gary just turned 17, so it is quite possible that just with stalling there will be no TPR. Gary and the rest of us are curious about what is happening in the TPR process. It is stressful. We are not stressed about the long-term issues. I'm glad his parents are getting this warning. If either of them step up and actually communicate with him, then that is a good outcome. I suspect they won't, and I expect when he is 18 we will adopt him.
Daughter, sister, wife, mother, foster-parent blog writer, philosophy professor ... I am and have been many things. These days my identities as a teacher of bioethics and the daughter of a woman with Parkinson's and dementia lead me to agree with Peter Singer, "It's different when it's your mother."